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Army closes Arctic airport

The Tiksi airport will be closed for regular traffic until 2015. Photo: mil.ru

The about 5000 people living in the remote Russian town of Tiksi lost their key lifeline to the outside world when the Russian military suddenly closed the local airport.

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It appears to have come as a big surprise to regional authoritities when the Russian Defence Ministry on 1 October decided to close the Tiksi airport, subsequently leaving the local population with only a helicopter connection to the outside world.

According to Head of the Republic of Yakutia, Yegor Borisov, the closure has created a number of unpleasant problems for the local population. The regional leader believes the closure came in connection with the Russian military leaving the last part of the local army base, a press release reads.

In a meeting with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, Borisov was told that the airport was closed because of a necessary upgrade of the runway. The upgrade will start in 2013, and the airport will be fully back up running from 2015, Minister Shoigu said.

The closure of the airport came just few weeks after a delegation from the Defence Ministry inspected the facility, information from the Defence Ministry shows. As previously reported by BarentsObserver, Tiksi is included in the list of ten sites which are to be developed as search and emergency centers in connection with Northern Sea Route shipping.

Meanwhile, the local population of Tiksi will have to take the local Mi-8 helicopter to the town of Ust-Kuyga and from there the south-bound air connection, Interfax reports.